Cheerfulness, gracefulness, silence, self-control, purity of intent, these are called penance of the mind says the Gita 17.16
We are going through five exercises for the mind development as given in the above Bhagavad Gita sloka. Reiterating here that these are the tips for the mind and not for the body. There are two previous slokas in the same chapter of Bhagavad Gita on the exercises for the body and the speech (17.14 & 17.15).
How could cheerfulness and gracefulness apply to the mind? Are they not related to the body by meaning? “Is cheerfulness and happiness one and the same”. Let me clarify these doubts before proceeding further.
Happiness is the state of mind and thus cheerful outlook is the result of cheerful mind. When the mind is not cheerful, one cannot fake happiness. Thus, cheerfulness is to the mind and the result is happiness.
Meaning of gracefulness is the act of moving in an attractive way that shows control as per Oxford dictionary. True as per the definition of the word gracefulness. Gracefulness is an art of the mind as per Bhagavad Gita. Gracefulness of the mind is in not allowing the negative emotions to take control of the mind. What are these dreadful negative emotions? Six of our prime enemies as reported in the saastras are Lust, anger, greed, pride, emotional attachment and jealousy. One will become graceful after controlling and overcoming all these six enemies.
Tamil poet #Thiruvalluvar mentioned about 4 enemies in a #thirukkural.
அழுக்காறு அவாவெகுளி இன்னாச்சொல் நான்கும்
இழுக்கா இயன்றது அறம்.
— Thirukkural 35
The mind which remains free from malice, desire, anger and speech that hurts others is good virtue.
Gentleness generally implies that you no longer have a strong ego-inspired desire to dominate or control others, which allows you to move into a rhythm with the universe. You cooperate with it, much like a surfer who rides with the waves instead of trying to overpower them. Gentleness means accepting life and people as they are, rather than insisting that they be as you are. As you practice living this way, blame disappears and you enjoy a peaceful world.
How to keep the mind free from these fearful negative emotions?
Lord Krishna suggests the solution for this as well. Very simple solution. A story to understand the solution.
This is a story credited to the Chinese philosopher #LaoTzu.
There lived a king who was always restless though he had everything. He went to his spiritual master and sought his guidance for his problem.
The guide asked, “Do you handle your responsibilities seriously and sincerely?” and the king replied “My citizens are happy. We are not afraid of our enemies. There is enough money with our citizens. I tax my people very little” “but I cannot remain relaxed” He added.
“I have a suggestion. Give your country to me” the philosopher said with a smile and without any hesitation.
The king was shocked but readily agreed to the suggestion because of the respect he had with his spiritual master.
“What would you do now as your country has come to me?” the spiritual master asked.
“I shall take up some job in some other country” the king replied.
“Instead of working for someone else, why don’t you work for me. You are a good ruler as per your own words. Why don’t you rule my country on my behalf. I will not get a better ruler than you. You are anyway better at that than me. I will visit you once a quarter for a review” the spiritual master suggested.
The king agreed to the suggestion and continued to rule the kingdom. The master came to the palace after a quarter and observed that the king was cheerful and relaxed this time.
The king gave red carpet welcome to the master and made him to sit in his throne. The king read out the performance report and handed over the accounts to the master for his verification. Master pushed them aside and instead asked “How are you doing now?”
“I am happy, contended and relaxed now with your grace, my master” the king replied.
“Is there any difference in your responsibilities, procedures, methods?” the master asked.
The king replied in the negative.
“Why were you then depressed earlier but relaxed now?” the master asked. The king had no clue. Hence the master explained himself.
“The only difference is the transformation in your mind. Earlier, your mind was burdened with the thought that it was your kingdom but more relaxed now. Because you are just my representative” the master smiled.
“Our mind is the cause for everything we feel, we face and how we face our problems. Sorrow encircles us when we think ‘me’ and ‘mine’. The thought that whatever I have is the grace of supreme force gives the much-needed poise”
“Continue to rule the kingdom with that grace” the master left having achieved his job.
The wisdom that “this life is given to me, this beautiful world has been given to me, I came to this world with nothing, and I will leave this world taking nothing with me” will provide the much-needed grace for the mind.
Lord Krishna says in another sloka that our mind is our friend and our mind can become our enemy as well. One who is able to befriend the mind becomes the successful person.
Let us also befriend our mind and conquer this world.
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